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Robert Levinson Disappeared In Iran In 2007. Where Is He?

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Robert Levinson Disappeared In Iran In 2007. Where Is He?

Middle East

Robert Levinson Disappeared In Iran In 2007. Where Is He?

Robert Levinson Disappeared In Iran In 2007. Where Is He?

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/463551010/463551011" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Iran released 5 prisoners but Robert Levinson wasn't among them. Relatives have been waiting for news since he was detained in Iran. His son Daniel Levinson talks to Renee Montagne about the case.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's run down who's getting out of Iranian prisons and who is not. Iran released five Americans over the weekend. A sixth is still being held, Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi. U.S. officials say they will continue trying to obtain his release.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

There is also the case of former FBI agent and CIA consultant Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran back in 2007. Iran's government says it has no information on his whereabouts, but his family has kept his name in the news. Joining us now is his son, Daniel Levinson. Good morning.

DANIEL LEVINSON: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: What happened, to the best of your understanding, back in 2007?

LEVINSON: Well, my dad traveled to Iran's Kish island, which is a free-trade zone. You don't need a visa to travel there. He was meeting with an American who had fled Iran after 1980, who was actually wanted for murder. And he was meeting with him. My dad was working as a contractor for the CIA at the time. And as far as we can tell that my dad checked out of the hotel. And according to the other man, he was approached by Iranian security forces. So a couple weeks after that, he went missing. The Iranian state-run Press TV reported that he was, quote, "in the hands of Iranian security forces." So we've been focused on that ever since.

INSKEEP: And you received a video of your father, Robert Levinson, five years ago with no information about who made it. What have you learned since then?

LEVINSON: We received that video in late 2010. But we also received pictures of him six months later. We haven't heard anything since. We haven't had any sort of credible information about his whereabouts since then. So that's - that's worrisome for us.

MONTAGNE: And what are you being told by the U.S., given that the government does continue to press for information about his case?

LEVINSON: Well, as of this weekend, we haven't heard much from them. We've tried to get more information. We received one phone call after the news broke of the swap, which came hours after the news had broken. And we found out on TV, just like everybody else. And even in that call, all they said was that they apologized for not letting us know ahead of time. The Iranians had apparently leaked the information before the plan. And they didn't give us any information about what are the next steps. And that's why we're going to be seeking meetings with top-level administration officials in the coming week or so, to find out, what are they doing now? Now that they've gotten everybody out, now that the nuclear deal has happened, what incentive, what urgency do they have to get my dad home? And we're just going to keep pressing his case until we get answers and until we get him home.

MONTAGNE: Well, besides the - besides U.S. officials, have you had any contact with Iran's government?

LEVINSON: Not recently. We will be reaching out to them as well. The - my mom and I traveled to the island December of 2007 and met with officials. But we didn't really get any information that was helpful whatsoever.

MONTAGNE: May I ask, though, is the release of these other - those being held - just briefly, we just have a few seconds here. Does that give you any sense of hope that something will happen with your dad?

LEVINSON: Honestly, I don't see how that makes a difference. It's been a problem for us because we've been hearing the same things for years and years. And it's been almost nine years now. So I don't know how this is going to affect my dad's case. All we can do - hope now is that the single focus is on getting my dad home regarding this - these improved relations between the United States and Iran.

MONTAGNE: All right, well, thank you very much for talking with us.

LEVINSON: Thank you so much for having me.

MONTAGNE: Daniel Levinson is the son of Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran for nine years.

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